Who Should the New American Idol Judges Be?

This past week, when American Idol concluded its twelfth season by crowning Candice Glover (who edged out Woodville's Kree Harrison), it was also announced that the show's latest lineup of judges is kaput. Randy Jackson went first, followed by Nicki Minaj. We're guessing that leaves Keith Urban and Mariah Carey, unfortunately the least interesting judges, but they've still got time to bail before the next season if they wish.

But, ladies and gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We can just hire more celebrities to fill these empty seats and no one will be the wiser. Ideally, we can even hire new celebrities who would be dramatic, flamboyant, and/or completely off the wall so that this show could get some viewers back.

In light of all this, we've compiled a short list of our favorites to replace Jackson and Minaj for next season that will hopefully make its way to Fox HQ through the power of the internets.

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Friday Night: Kelly Clarkson & The Fray at The Woodlands

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Photos by Marco Torres
Kelly Clarkson, The Fray
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 7, 2012

Check out more pics of Kelly Clarkson and The Fray in our slideshow.

Friday was a night of literally hot fun at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion. The heat didn't stop anyone, least of all the artists, from having fun, .

The Fray kicked off the evening with a nice set that included "All at Once," "You Found Me" and "Never Say Never." One impressive thing about pianist/lead singer Isaac Slade was that he was very interactive with the audience. He went out into the audience many times, including when he played the piano at a platform in the back of the pavilion.

During "Be Still," in a Us Festival/Bono-like fashion, Slade climbed the scaffolding near left-center of the pavilion while perusing the audience. He didn't get up that far, but had the audience eating out of the palm of his hands.

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American Idol Judges Say Ladies Ruled Houston Auditions

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Michael Becker/FOX
Sea Cruise: American Idol judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, with host Ryan Seacrest
The final Houston-area audition for hopeful American Idol contestants took place today at the Galveston Island Convention Center, where the judges told Rocks Off they're hoping for a female Idol this year.

Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Ryan Seacrest were at the Convention Center all day passing out golden tickets to the "best of the best." Without naming actual names, so far they said it's been the ladies who have come out on top.

"The strongest voices we've seen this year have been girls," Lopez said at a press conference earlier this afternoon. "We had a lot of strong girls last year, but they were voted off one by one before any of the guys."

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Ryan Seacrest & A Goth Cowboy: Clips From Today's H-Town American Idol Frenzy

Check out our slideshow of all the American Idol Season 11 hopefuls.

Rocks Off was on the ground at Reliant Stadium well before 5 a.m. this morning to scope out the crowd that had amassed to try out for a spot on American Idol. We have to admit, we got chills when we heard Ryan Seacrest say "This is Houston, and this...is American Idol."

Our Allison Wagoner will have a full report from Reliant shortly. Until then, here's a few of our favorite hopefuls from this morning as shot by videographer Courtney Riedmann.

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Idol Beat: American Idiots

Spoiler alert: the smug one wins.
Thanks to Shea Serrano for taking the bullet yesterday.

After what felt like eons, the 10th season of American Idol lurched to its inevitable anticlimax last night. It was as especially torturous affair, stretching well over two hours and mixing performances by the new (Lady Gaga...again), the established (Tim McGraw), and the tired (Steven Tyler).

And because your humiliation as a contestant doesn't end when a bunch of prepubescent girls vote you off in favor of an Alfred E. Neuman clone with a frog in his throat, the "final 13" were trotted out again over the course of the show to rub their failure in their noses again.

American Idol is the most successful show on television, and also the most sadistic. For that reason alone, I should love it. But instead of using their powers for good, the producers of Idol consistently champion mediocrity and attempt to prop up an increasingly irrelevant recording industry.

Which is how you end up with a winner like Scotty McCreery.

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Idol Beat: The Beginning Of The End

"Are these two really the best from this season?"
7:07 p.m.: Okay, so the sir who typically writes this column - Pete Vonder Haar, or, as he's also referred to: the Television Demigod - has a bit of personal business to tend to, so we're stepping in for him. I have seen exactly zero hours of American Idol in the last nine years. That seems less than ideal, but whatevs.

7:09: Commericals. Soda, Taco Bell. Preview for a movie called Super 8 that looks like it can only either be excellent or awful. They still make So You Think You Can Dance? Huh.

7:11: Show's back on. Question: Where are the rest of Ryan Seacrest's legs?

7:12: Lauren Alaina, apparently one of the show's last two contestants, is up. She doesn't seem terrible. It's easy country, mostly. She has a live fiddle player with her.

7:12:05: Wait, do I need to write "live," or is that automatically assumed when I write "fiddle player"? Has anyone ever had a robot fiddle player accompany them onstage? Herbie Hancock, probably. Man, Herbie Hancock rocks tits, son. Robot fiddle players are so boss.

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Idol Beat: Haley Freezes Over

Suspenders with heels? What were you thinking?
In addition to going on the Idol tour, one of the "perks," if you want to call it that, of making it to the Top 13 or whatever is that you get to come back and sit in the audience during the final selection. I only point this out because of the numerous shots of the now gone and forgotten (oh Stefano, can you ever forgive us?) attempting to convince us it wasn't torture to sit there and watch someone else grab all the glory.

And "final selection" was probably a poor choice of words.

To no one's surprise - except possibly hers - Haley Reinhart was voted off last night. Hey, 95 million voters can't be wrong... even if it's actually 2 million voters voting 47 times apiece, or one voter sending 95 million texts. Whatever, Ryan Seacrest says it's an impressive number, and we better believe him. He's a TV producer, after all.

So once again, we are assured of our a choice between two boring, lily-white finalists. Insomniacs, set your DVRs for next Tuesday and Wednesday, you'll sleep like the dead.

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Idol Beat: The Doom That Came To Haley

May the best...oh, who am I kidding?
Two hours. We're down to three contestants and the program last night lingered for two freaking hours.

It's hard to blame Fox. NBC is coming up on the outside with The Voice, ABC has a slew of new programs debuting in the fall (a reboot of Charlie's Angels!!!), and CBS is unleashing 30 new versions of N.C.I.S.. They need the ratings.

And so we enter the home stretch. Three hopefuls remains from the... dozens that started this journey eleventy hundred weeks ago. Or words to that effect. I tend to zone out when Ryan Seacrest is talking.

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Idol Beat: Democracy Doesn't Work

So, professor: would you say it's time for everyone to panic?
Well, I feel like an idiot.

Flush with victory over my (sole) successful pick of the season in (finally) getting Jacob's booting correct, I was confident that James Durbin had the right combination of talent and appeal to the ladies to get into the finals, if not win the thing outright.


In retrospect, Seacrest telling us 72 million votes were cast on Wednesday should have raised flags. The hordes don't come out in those kind of numbers unless they feel their favorite is threatened. And with the way the judges gushed over both of James' performances, you knew Scotty's legions of devotees were texting their little fingers off. The result: James, who'd never been in the bottom three to this point, was sent packing.

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Idol Beat: Durbin Warfare

It's James' world; we just live in it.
That wonderful sound you heard last night - that distinct lack of atonal screeching that used to climb up your spine like a mongoose wearing stiletto heels - was the sound of a Jacob-free American Idol. What a beautiful thing.

I'm not sure which was more surprising: that after having six dudes and only two girls a little over a month ago that the sexes are evened out at two and two (not suspicious at all, that) or that James would so easily separate himself from the flock, Scotty included, this close to the end.

It was almost, dare I say, exciting.

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